1997 Chrysler Sebring Catastrophic loss of power, white smo

Tiny
KINGSIDE
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 CHRYSLER SEBRING
Engine Mechanical problem
1997 Chrysler Sebring 6 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 152k miles

I hope you will try to give a specific answer to this question so I will try to be accurate.

This Sebring has always had intermittent "check Engine Light" events that eventually turned "off". But last year bad misfirings started to occur and even starting the car, the Check Engne light would start to flash. This car has several new O2 senors, but not all, new MAP, Distributor module, coils, rotors, camshaft and crakshaft sensors.

On September 15 th 2009 after months of the misfring and engine codes isolating Cylinder 1 and 3 as misfiring and the O2 sensor for that bank of cylinder's catalytic converter(Note on this car there is a cat conv off of the front and rear exhaust manifold - plus a cat mid car) as no signal and the downstream o2 for that same cat conv as dead.

So no wonder the flashing check engine light. Right?
Don't ask me why I didn't replace the o2 sensors earlier. The reason might be that I didn't know I had a front and rear exhaust manifold cat conv. BUt I do and did and I'm thinking repeated explosions of unburned gas has melted the matrix in the front bank Cat conv at the least.

Soon the engine lost power big time down to 2-3 mph and no gas pedal response. Then white smoke started to pour out of the engine compartment. I put the car in a parking lot and turned it off and got out. Later I tried to resolve by starting the car and driving it home but soon the white smoke started again and the power fell off as before. I pulled into a gas station and called AAA. They towed it to my home where it started again- to park it- but the next morning a code 11 had been set and has never started normally since. If it does start it runs 1-2 secs and then turns off.

MY diagnosis is - engine cannot breath due to destroyed cat conv. Front exhaust manifold cat for sure maybe rear too. I was told by a race car mechanic to remove the O2 sensor off the front cat conv to see if the car could breath and start. What do you think?

Also could I be looking at trans axle issues since lack of forward motion and power is a symptom of that system's failure as I understand it. Front plate(clutch) friction can cause extreme heat just like a clogged Cat Conv. Causing leaked engine oil on the engine surface to smoke.

I need help to determine some tests to reduce my labor costs in shop.

Thanks ever so much for any advice!
Do you
have the same problem?
Yes
No
Saturday, January 16th, 2010 AT 11:33 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Yes, remiving the o2 sensor can help if the converter is plugged. Give it a try. As far as the smoke, was it smoke or steam? Was the engine overheating? As far as the transmission, was the engine reving and the car not moving?

Let me know.
Joe
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Sunday, January 17th, 2010 AT 12:34 AM
Tiny
KINGSIDE
  • MEMBER
Both me and the tow truck driver( also a private mechanic) felt it was smoke, the exhaust gases were clear. The engine was revving but not moving or moving only very slowly - I thought by lack of power due to the clogged cat(s) but in addition to that I must add the possibility of transaxle issues.

The car never overheated not even when it was smoking.

I checked the coolant and oil but there is no mixture so I think my heads are intact - but I can't be sure. I have no infrared measurement device and the car won't start now anyway.

A new EGR valve, Air intake temp sensor and battery complete the list of devices replaced to get this car up to speed.

Returning to the trans axle issue- because I have had symptoms of slipping - changing gears - for some time - particularly in the morning when the car, already in gear, would not move. Then after shifting back and forth from D to R and so forth the car would get into gear and all would be fine.

Also I must report that there has been noticeable transmission fluid loss, but very slight, and a measurement of the transmission fluid color after the breakdown showed some discoloration indicating it had been slightly over heated and burned.

I must also say that when the car was in the parking lot, but before the drive to the gas station where I called the tow, I checked the trans fluid level and felt it was very low - I then added about 1/8 of a quart and I may have overfilled.

I can tell you that if I have transmission failure I cannot afford to repair this car. The total loss value is about $600 max.

What is really tragic is that although the dealer indicated 2.5 years ago that their were misfires and O2 failure they never told me that the emissions system determines the timing advance or that I had cats literally on top of the misfires that would be destroyed.

Why didn't the cats fail before now? - I am retired and drive less than 50m per month.

With the dealer code reading 2.5 years ago my roommate - a very good home repair mechanic- and former professional motocross rider and car collector - performed a 100k tuneup (complete) and tried to replace as many O2 sensors as he could but I don't think he knew the car had cats off the exhaust manifolds and he didn't have a way to check the O2 function and may have replaced good ones and left bad ones.

In any case there were several ops for the dealer to save me from this fate but they never said a word.I learned about the exhaust manifold cats from my own research - they are not pictured or referenced even in the Chilton manual.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Sunday, January 17th, 2010 AT 1:25 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
If the engine was reving in gear and not moving, chances are the trans is out. As far as the no start now, is the security lght staying on? It almost sounds like a security system is shuting it down.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Sunday, January 17th, 2010 AT 11:36 PM
Tiny
KINGSIDE
  • MEMBER
UUUmmmm - this car does not have a security system- If that's what you mean.
It does have, as all Sebrings - Chrysler do, an auto realy shutdown circuit and I only assume the auto relay shutdown is in effect - the power train module can initiate that . But I am not the expert.

I know the last time the car was moving was when I parked it after offloading from the tow truck.

It would start after that but only run briefly <5secs before shutting down.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, January 18th, 2010 AT 9:05 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Some came with a factory alarm that would allow the engine to start and only run a short time before shutting down. THe only thing at this point, if it still doesn't start, is to check for spark and fuel to see which is missing.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Thursday, January 21st, 2010 AT 8:57 PM

Please login or register to post a reply.

Recommended Guides